Las Vegas Sun

April 18, 2014

Currently: 75° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Damon Political Report

Judge orders two public hearings on redistricting

A Carson City judge today ordered three court masters to hold a pair of public hearings next month as they set about redrawing Nevada’s congressional and legislative districts.

Striking an ambitious timeline in order to get the lines redrawn before the next election, Carson City District Judge James T. Russell ordered the court masters to have their first map completed by Oct. 21.

The masters—Reno lawyer Tom Sheets, Carson City Recorder Alan Glover and former Legislative Counsel Bureau staffer Bob Erickson—must take public testimony in Las Vegas on Oct. 10 and in Carson City on Oct. 11, essentially re-treading the same ground taken by state lawmakers who failed to pass a redistricting plan earlier this year.

The three men will then deliberate behind closed doors to come up with their report and first draft maps for congressional, senate and assembly maps—in that order.

At the conclusion of a three-hour hearing today, Russell said he would issue a written opinion on the legal disputes that divide the Republicans and Democrats.

The heart of the legal fight lies at how to interpret the Voting Rights Act, passed during the civil rights era to prohibit discriminatory voting practices.

Republicans argue the act requires Nevada create at least one majority-minority congressional district where Hispanics make up more than 50 percent of the population. They also want four majority-minority state Senate districts and eight majority-minority Assembly Districts.

Democrats argue it’s unconstitutional to rely on race as the predominant factor in drawing the district lines. Politically, they argue Hispanics would have more influence if their growing numbers were spread across a wider number of districts.

The two parties also disagree on how the court masters should begin the process of drawing the maps.

Republicans want the masters to use the existing 2001 districts as a starting point, while Democrats argue the first maps passed by the Legislature and vetoed by Gov. Brian Sandoval should serve as the starting point.

Russell is expected to issue a written decision on those questions before the masters release their maps next month.

The case is expected to be appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court and perhaps to federal court, creating a significant delay of candidates hoping to run in the 2012 election.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 2 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. "The case is expected to be appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court and perhaps to federal court, creating a significant delay of candidates hoping to run in the 2012 election."

    The one and only reason there would be an appeal on this is because one political party don't like how the Hispanic American population is distributed on the map.

    The glaring truth is that if you took the topographical map of Nevada and split it according to population and geography sensibly, the Republican Party would howl in anger at that decision.

    The Republican Party simply fears the Hispanic American vote.

    If find it hilarious that they try this method to combat their vote. Rather than try to campaign for it.

    This shows how the Republican Party nowadays has no soul at all. They spend more energy demonizing the Hispanic American vote. More than courting it. Because in the right wing extremism that the Republican Party is immersed in nowadays, it's more important to paint them all as illegal immigrants that can't speak English and they suck up American jobs. THAT, my friends, is the Republican Party.

    They believe it's easier to fight stuff like this in court. Rather than try to do things the old fashioned way: Campaign.

    The Republican Party's message stinks. They don't like one America. They don't like one Nevada.

    They want that vote split up. Shove all the Latino American vote in one district. So they can snow the people in the other three.

    I hope they don't get away with it.

    And I also hope there are sane, calm and rational voices of reasons in our court system here when they make their decision. Not right wing nutballs who all think like Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona.

  2. "Striking an ambitious timeline in order to get the lines redrawn before the next election, Carson City District Judge James T. Russell ordered the court masters to have their first map completed by Oct. 21."

    Seriously? Getting the lines drawn before the next election is "striking an ambitious timeline,"? Wouldn't that rather be considered doing the minimum necessary in the maximum allowable time?